Bailey blows another lead; Bosox boot series with Tigers

040112_baileyIn a game that had the pace of molasses dripping on a February morning in Vermont, the Boston Red Sox could not hold onto a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning and were eventually outlasted by the Detroit Tigers 7-5 thanks in part to another blown opportunity by Boston reliever Andrew Bailey and a controversial fly ball call against Daniel Nava in the eighth inning that earned Red Sox manager John Farrell an ejection.  The Tigers won the four game series 3-1 against the Red Sox, but with Toronto’s victory Sunday over the Baltimore Orioles, Boston maintained its A.L. East Division lead at two games over Baltimore.

Both starters in the Sunday afternoon affair struggled with control, walks, hits and long innings and both had surpassed the 100 pitch mark by the fifth inning.

Boston starter Felix Doubront struggled with control at the outset of the game, walking both Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter to set up Miguel Cabrera’s ground rule RBI double for the Tigers’ first run.  Detroit made it 2-0 when Prince Fielder chased home Cabrera with a fielder’s choice RBI.  A running, stabbing catch by Jacoby Ellsbury on a gapper off the bat of Jhonny Peralta limited first inning damage for the Red Sox.

Boston gave Doubront a fresh start in the top of the second by tying the game at 2-2.  Mike Napoli led off with a single, Stephen Drew worked Justin Verlander for a walk, then Ryan Lavarnway connected for an RBI single to score Napoli.  Verlander hit Jose Iglesias with a pitch to reload the bases and Drew scored on a sac fly by Jacoby Ellsbury to even the score.

Doubront could not stand the prosperity and handed Detroit a 3-2 lead after giving up two singles and a double by Austin Jackson that moved Bryan Holaday to third and set the stage for him to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball called against Boston catcher Ryan Lavarnway.  The inning pushed Doubront’s pitch count near 60 after just two frames.

Boston tied the game in the top of the third when Dustin Pedroia got aboard with a single and eventually came home on Mike Napoli’s fielder’s choice, making it 3-3.

The Red Sox took their first lead of the game in the top of the fourth when Lavarnway reached on a walk, moved to third on Ellsbury’s double off the right-center wall, and scored on Shane Victorino’s RBI ground out to make it 4-3 Red Sox.  Shane Victorino saved the lead for Doubront in the top of the fourth by spearing a fly ball that nuzzled up against the right field wall off the bat of Torii Hunter with the bases loaded to close out a Detroit threat.  Both Doubront and Verlander were lifted after five innings.  Doubront finished with a pitching line of IP  5  PC 104   H 4   Er 2   BB 2   K 2.  Verlander exited with a line of IP 5   PC 112   Er 4   H 7   BB 3   K 4.

Drew Smyly came on and tossed two and two-thirds scoreless innings of relief for the Tigers.  Junichi Tazawa tossed a scoreless sixth inning for Boston, then the Red Sox flirted with gasoline and matches by bringing in demoted closer Andrew Bailey in the seventh inning.  Bailey gave up a single to Jackson, got a soft liner to second for one out, then surrendered a single to Cabrera, sending Boston manager John Farrell to the mound to lift him in favor of lefty Andrew Miller.  Miller gave up a single to Prince Fielder to load the bases, then struck out Victor Martinez for the second out, but ran a fastball inside to hit Jhonny Peralta and force in a run that tied the game at 4-4.  The run was charged to Bailey.  Miller closed out the inning by inducing Omar Infante for a ground out to end the threat.

Detroit inserted closer Joaquin Benoit in the top of the eighth with Ellsbury sitting at second following a single and his league leading 32nd steal of the year, but the threat ended when Daniel Nava, pinch hitting for Shane Victorino, struck out.

Controversy broke out in Detroit’s eighth.  Nava replaced Victorino in right field and apparently recorded the first out of the inning on a long fly ball off the bat of Detroit’s Garcia, but the ball dropped on the transfer to his throwing hand and Detroit was awarded a leadoff double.  Farrell argued and was tossed, but momentum quickly swung in favor of the Tigers.  With the Red Sox still steaming over the call, Bryan Holaday followed with a bunt that resulted in runners at first and third when Andrew Miller overthrew the ball to Pedroia covering first on the play.  Miller then walked Austin Jackson to load the bases with no outs for Detroit.  Alex Wilson came on in relief for Boston and gave up a sac fly to Torii Hunter to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead.  Following an intentional walk to Miggy Cabrera, Craig Breslow was tagged for a two RBI single by Prince Fielder to make it 7-4 for Detroit.

Boston got a run back in the top half of the ninth when Pedroia reached on a single, stole second and scored on an RBI double by Jhonny Gomes to close the gap to 7-5.  But with Gomes at second, right fielder Torii Hunter got on his horse and tracked down a screeching line drive fly off the bat of Stephen Drew to close out the Detroit win.  The Tigers took three of four from the Red Sox and dropped Boston’s record against a grueling June schedule to 12-10 for the month.  The Red Sox now stand at 22-18 on the road this season and 13-11 against the A.L. Central in a week that has seen the A.L. East tighten into a five team race thanks to the 11th straight win by the Blue Jays Sunday afternoon.

The Red Sox sat two players Sunday currently in hitting slumps.  Catcher Jarrod Saltalamachia got the day off after collecting just 5 hits in the past nine games (5 for 34 for a .147 average), while third baseman Will Middlebrooks was benched for the third straight game.  Middlebrooks is hitting just .192 on the entire season and has seen playing time given to red hot Jose Iglesias who has been alternating starts between third and shortstop.

Clay Buchholz will skip his scheduled start Tuesday against Colorado and may be sent for a rehab assignment in the minors, delaying his return to the rotation by about a week.  Buchholz, 9-0 on the season has not pitched since June 8 with tenderness and pain in his collarbone area.  The Red Sox miss him dearly as Boston has gone 11-1 in games he has started this season.  Southpaw reliever Franklin Morales, hammered Saturday night by the Tigers, may be headed for the DL early in the week after suffering from continued shoulder soreness.  He is scheduled for a medical exam Monday when Boston returns home for six games.

Between platooning position players and shuffling his line up due to various injuries and stints on the disabled list this season, manager John Farrell used his 57th different lineup Sunday through Boston’s first 77 games of the 2013 season.

Boston gets an off day Monday before entertaining the Rockies for a short two-game Inter-League set and then closes out the month of June with a four-game home stand against the suddenly resurgent Toronto Blue Jays.

Categories: A-AMERICAN LEAGUE, American League Happenings

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